Local News

Hillside High principal steps down

Posted June 12, 2009

— Hillside High School Principal Earl Pappy has resigned, officials said Friday, three years after he arrived on campus with a plan to turn the troubled school around.

Durham Public Schools spokesman Michael Yarbrough said the resignation is effective July 1. He declined to elaborate on the move, citing personnel privacy rules.

Pappy, 51, couldn't be reached Friday for comment.

Hillside High School in Durham Few details of principal's departure known

He was hired in 2006 after four years as principal of a high school in Richmond, Va. He had improved student performance in Richmond, and Durham officials saw his no-nonsense, goal-oriented approach as the path to improving Hillside High.

A state judge has threatened for years to shut down the Durham school because of poor student performance.

Fabian Burch, who recently graduated from Hillside High, said the school "was kind of a crazy place to be, kind of wild and frantic and crazy" before Pappy arrived. He credited the principal with turning the school around.

"He really, like, brought up Hillside," said Burch, who plans to study in London in the fall. "People, like, respected Mr. Pappy."

End-of-course test scores posted on the school district's Web site show that students improved in some areas during Pappy's tenure and regressed in others.

"He maybe can't do it all in three years, but give him some time. He can get it done," parent Robin Bell said.

Bell said she wrote a letter to the superintendent and spoke the school board when she heard rumors Pappy might not come back to Hillside next year.

"He's such a role model for these kids, and he's so supportive," she said. "He's made a great difference."

Pappy is a Raleigh native who worked in public schools in Wake and Johnston counties before moving to Virginia.

Yarbrough said the district is forming a committee to search for a new Hillside High principal.


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • storesales Jun 16, 2009

    Earl Pappy never had fighting chance because there are things about Durham Public Schools that have been concealed. He was railroaded by a particular HR personnel she never liked him and always complained about him as well as removed his staff one by one from the school because she had a personal vendetta against him. Let's see if another HR person leaves his post and takes that position. The state board should really investigate the whole personnel dept. because they are doing unethical things over there. Ms. Wagstaff may of had the wrong approach but she was on to something that DPS didn't want to leak.

  • Harrison Bergeron Jun 12, 2009


    For some needed education, please read:

    "How I Joined Teach for America—and Got Sued for $20 Million" by
    Joshua Kaplowitz


  • ra8797 Jun 12, 2009

    From what I'm hearing his resignation has nothing to do with test scores, and I'll leave it at that.

  • anneonymousone Jun 12, 2009

    Gandalla, there's not an apt parallel between your employees and high school students. Some high school students are so concrete in their thinking that they do not see connections between actions and immediate consequences, let alone between their performance in school and their lives after school. Even the worst of employees see some connection between their work and their paychecks.

    Also, if you have employees who are not present for much of their scheduled work day, are not productive when they are present for work, and refuse to follow company policies, protocol or even basic civility, you have the option of firing them so that they do not contribute to poor company or unit performance. As a teacher, I've been called everything but a child of God, and after a disciplinary referral, the child comes right back to my classroom.

    I love my job most days, but there's only so much influence teachers can have. That doesn't stop most of us from trying.

  • Tiffany2007 Jun 12, 2009

    YES, BLAME THE RUDE, IGNORANT KIDS that do not want to learn... Some do want to learn and they are the ones that is getting ignored. Which is a sad case. He had his reasons for leaving and one could be to keep from being murdered by a student. It is almost impossible to discipline someone else child. Be very afaid of the child and the mother. Sad, but true. Shame.

  • mramorak Jun 12, 2009


  • thill19601 Jun 12, 2009

    Sometimes you just get tired of the BS!!!!! It is sad that these kids had an intelligent, black leader and DID NOT appriecate him. I dont blame him I would leave them ALONE ALSO!!! He came, he TRIED and He is LEAVIN!!!not LEAVING.. He can leave with his head high and know that he did his best. The kids did not do their part. The parents DID NOT do their part nor did the kids do their part.. I dont blame the teachers I would just come there and get my paycheck!!!! The kids dont want anything out of life BUT THREE MEALS, BE KNOWN BY A NUMBER and TOLD WHEN TO DO EVERYTHING,(JAIL) or PUSHING UP DAISIES.. The kids and the parents must think the world OWE them something.

  • The2ruthHurts Jun 12, 2009

    You can't blame the teachers or the administration with what plagues Hillside. Between ridiculous budgets and crippling politics, there is little hope for those who seek an education at this school. I would have to agree and say that between the uncontrolled youth and deteriorating environment in which this institution stands, don't expect much to happen here. Many go to Hillside in search of an education while the a good-sized minority destroy those hopes with their gang-infested and gangsta-rap mentality. It is always a devastating blow when one person tries to make something good out of something bad but comes short when there is so much against him/her.

  • gingerlynn Jun 12, 2009

    My husband tried to fill in on semester a few years back when they were short math instructors. Although he has taught at an underpriviledged school all of his 34 years, he said he would never go back there. No one wanted to learn. Mr. Pappy walked into a no win situation. His only mistake was assuming the students and parents actually cared. (at least the percentage of the population that is consistently failing)

  • donnied1952 Jun 12, 2009

    This school was a waste of money when it was built, of course with the blessing of the liberal politicians. It has been a disaster since day one. The best thing to do is to shut it down, change the name and re-open at some point in the future for educating the prisoners. Almost everything that goes there is either already in trouble with the legal system or on probation. The kids that do want an education can't get one at that school for all the distractions going on everyday.